Never mind the piddling few hundred million extra dollars a year for Australia by increasing airline capacity to the Middle East, what about the billions available by genuinely opening up the skies?
Tourism minister Fran Bailey set an important precedent by over-ruling Qantas and the Department of Transport to commission an Access Economics study on United Arab Emirates capacity, but the Pacific Asia Travel Association is offering a vastly bigger economic carrot — increasing global economic growth by US$490 billion through liberalising 320 country pair markets.
That big picture encompasses some of the large projections being made about what will flow from last week’s reduction of constraints on trans-Atlantic travel – incremental GDP growth of $7.8 billion, a 29% increase in traffic and 117,000 new jobs.
Australian aviation policy meanwhile continues to be set for the benefit of the few at the cost of the many. The Qantas and Virgin Blue lobbying efforts to avoid open skies depend on nationalism, sentiment and threats – I am yet to see a single rational study claiming any benefits from continued protectionism.
And while on matters of powered flight, Texas Pacific Group isn’t letting grass grow on the tarmac waiting for a Qantas outcome. According to The Independent, TPG and BA are circling Spain’s Iberia Airlines – a One World member worth some 3.6 billion euros.
If one hangar door closes, there’s always another privatisation somewhere being cleared for take off.